Thursday, April 8, 2010

This week's post is just a status update. I have almost all of my students in LIB 200 blogging.

Since I am in the WID seminar, I've invited them to brainstorm using their blogs on their upcoming research paper topics for LIB 200-- Humanism, Science and Technology. I've suggested five areas they could explore: such as investigating a literary text that uses science (such as Frankenstein, though I certainly don't want to see 20 papers there), also the promise and perils of science and technology, exploring neo-Darwinism in their field/major, or investigating a scientist and the challenges they overcame in their career. This last category could be someone as obvious as Galileo or Darwin (being attacked by religious authorities) or scientists who were pioneers in their fields, such as Barbara McLintock / Rosalind Frank (gender) or Percy Julian (race) or Stephen Hawking (a disability). This week we looked at computer ads, including ads for the new iPad. (By the way, it's astonishing how unreflective students are about technology. I'm always reminded we need to teach critical thinking about advertising--visual literacy--as well critical thinking about written texts.) As a counter to this sort of 'technoromanticism' (a fancy word from a book by Richard Coyne), we just did e-waste, and we found some equally surprising photographs of huge piles of discarded computers and phones, which are 'extracted' by thousands of workers (by hand and without safety equipment) in Guiyu, China. (Similar stories are found all over the developing world in Africa and India.) This fit nicely with The Story of Stuff (, a short animated film, which will be a part of their next blogging assignment.

Right now, more than half of my students have been keeping up with the blog assignments. I'm hoping the other students will catch up once they see one another's responses. We just did a demo. of how to 'follow' other students. This is really easy, of course,but you need a computer lab to do it in real time--I showed them how, and hopefully my students will collect some followers soon besides their instructor. Several of them already have....

I think one of the things that blogging is good for is to check-up on what material is generating interest. In a topic-based course like mine (which has the spirit of a research seminar even though 25 students is way too large to run it as an actual seminar), I am throwing a lot different short texts and different types of science and technology. Once I find out what my students are writing about, I will be posting specific research links on separate web pages to help them with research papers on our course wiki ( Of course, students can also contribute links. This approach works really well--you can let students drive what materials they need. I hope to get some of my science majors showing what they know, and my humanists thinking differently--and critically--about science....

1 comment:

  1. Hey R--

    I hope that you don't mind that I added a couple of tags.

    BTW, your LIB200 is very close to mine in some aspects; maybe we could share later; I am thinking of teaching it in the Spring of 2011.